John Proctor Tragic Hero

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John Proctor: A Tragic Hero Arthur Miller was an American playwright and essayist in the twentieth century. One of his most famous works is “Tragedy and the Common Man”, written in 1949. In his essay, Miller makes a strong point regarding the common man’s appropriateness for tragedies. Another of Miller’s works is The Crucible, written in 1952. The play was written in response to the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. It was focused on the inconsistencies of the Salem witch trials. When characterizing a tragic hero, Aristotle writes “A man doesn’t become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall.” To be classified as a tragic hero, one must be born of nobility, possess a tragic flaw, tempt fate, have a moment of realization, have a …show more content…

However, as the play begins, the audience learns that Proctor has a compelling secret; he had an affair with a young girl by the name of Abigail Williams, who is the Reverend’s niece. Abigail is a stubborn girl and does not believe that Proctor has disposed of all his feelings for her. In response to this, Abigail engages in witchcraft with a few other girls to try and kill Proctor’s wife Elizabeth. As the town uncovers the shenanigans the girls are playing, they start to cry out the names of others who they have allegedly seen with the Devil in order to save themselves from punishment. As a result, the audience perceives that Proctor and Abigail’s affair is the reason for all of the hysteria surrounding the witch trials, suggesting the consequences of human …show more content…

However, Miller believes “...the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.” (Miller, “Tragedy”, 2). Miller states, “...the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life… to secure one thing--his sense of personal dignity.” (Miller, “Tragedy”, 4). “The flaw… is really nothing… but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity...” (Miller, “Tragedy”, 6).
The reason that there is such an absence of tragedies to this day, is that “...the turn which modern literature has taken toward the purely psychiatric view of life, or the purely sociological.” (Miller, “Tragedy”, 13). With so much thinking and analyzing involved, no one can really enjoy a play for what it is--pure entertainment. By constantly trying to figure out an inference for why something happened, the audience can no longer accept tragic action. This, along with societal belief that for a protagonist to be identified as a character he must be faultless, has made tragedy almost

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